When Demagogues Attack

Back in our distant childhood, Joe McCarthy was even more distant, someone you would see, if at all, in a scratchy kinescope clip. He was as quaint as a war movie, as irrelevant as the Andrews Sisters.

We knew about “McCarthyism” long before we knew about McCarthy. The word, if not the man, was relevant in the political climate of our youth. It was used with derision. It was something to avoid. It was the L Word of its day.

Joe came to mind as we were contemplating Barry’s response to McCain’s Rovian attack ads. It seems a tepid response at first, not at all what’s required. It’s not angry.

I don’t care what they say about me, but I love this country too much to let them take over another election with lies and phony outrage and swift-boat politics. Enough is enough.

Well, fine, we were thinking, but civility doesn’t win elections. Get out the rhetorical bat, whack some rhetorical kneecaps. Politics is bloodsport, violence punctuated by consultant meetings. Man up.

But then we remembered the line that finally broke Bomber Joe’s winning streak:

“Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness… You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

And just like that — in that very moment — it was over. Joseph Welch slayed the dragon.

It’s a risky strategy in the hothouse timeframe of a fall presidential campaign, but hey, it’s risky running as a black man in These United States. We want to see more, we want to see it expressed with more conviction. But the more egregious McCain’s attacks get — and they will, Rovians can’t help themselves — the more righteous civility just might carry the day.

Obama On Lipstick Controversy: Attacks Media, Says “Enough Is Enough” [TPM]
Add a Comment
Please log in to post a comment